Behind the Beat: Party Time

Popularly celebrated in the United States and Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that holds a multitude of meanings for different people.

Fortunately, just in time for this Cinco de Mayo weekend, Amherst fuzz-rock band Pachangacha is ready to boil the celebration down to its most basic element: an excuse to party.

“Pachangacha is a made-up word taking the Spanish word ‘pachanga,’ meaning ‘to party’ and the sound ‘cha,’ which we took from a song off the soundtrack of Wes Anderson’s film Bottle Rocket,” says vocalist and guitarist Bryce Pulaski. “Pronunciation: ‘pa-chong-ga-cha.’ It means party.”

First formed in 2010, after Pulaski returned from a summer tour with the idea to create a new group featuring falsetto melodies, heavy fuzz and a distinct ’90s influence, Pachangacha quickly took shape in the basement of the members’ home and practice space, Babetown.

Pulaski says, “Brian [Bartus (guitar, vocals)], Ryan [Bonsall (drums)] and myself live together at Babetown so it’s not too hard for us to get together and jam in the basement. Albert [Lagrange (guitar, vocals)] was always around and just happened to buy a Big Muff Wicker fuzz pedal when I told him the idea for the band. He was excited, and it was kind of meant to be from that point on.”

Having secured and played its first show at the Florence American Legion, the group then quickly headed to the studio to record the five-track album Berserkabunga.

“The recording process actually went very smoothly and we didn’t even need to go back to do second mixes,” says Pulaski. “We were very pleased with how Berserkabunga came out.”

The effect of such a smooth recording process is clearly evident on the record. Harnessing a lo-fi sound that mixes in the influence of ’90s bands like The Rentals, Weezer and Pavement, Pachangacha crafts songs like “If I Lived in California” and “College” that are more than capable of standing out in their own right.

Says Pulaski, “Sometimes I will write a whole song by myself and then bring it to the band, and very few changes happen to it from then on. Other times we start with a clean slate and write the song together as a collaboration. This usually takes much longer, but we all seem to be much more excited about the outcome. We try to keep it fresh and interesting as much as possible.”

Speaking of keeping things interesting, Pachangacha has a series of shows scheduled both in the Valley and in Montreal. The band also has plans to record a full-length album in the near future.

“We have been writing a full-length entitled Weird Head for the past year that we are going to be recording in June,” says Pulaski. “We have 16 songs completed and we are very anxious to get into the studio. We will be releasing it on a 12-inch vinyl record and are currently looking for a label or collective to help us release it.”

Pachangacha performs May 5, The Elevens, 140 North Pleasant St. Main St., Northampton,

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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